- Trump’s new explanation for the Mar-a-Lago documents is that “everyone ends up having to take their work home from time to time.”
- Trump claimed he had a “standing order” to declassify the documents “the moment” they left the Oval Office.
- The DOJ is investigating whether Trump broke three laws when he brought government records to Mar-a-Lago.
Former President Donald Trump says everyone brings work home sometimes, as he seeks to develop a new line to explain why top-secret government documents are being stored at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida.
“As we can all realize, everyone ends up having to bring their jobs home from time to time. American presidents are no different,” said the statement from Trump’s office that aired Friday night on Fox News. .
Trump further claimed he had a “standing order” to declassify the documents “the moment” they left the Oval Office.
“President Trump, in order to prepare for the next day’s work, often carried documents, including classified documents, from the Oval Office to the Residence. He had a standing order that documents removed from the Oval Office and brought into the residence were deemed to be declassified as soon as he removed them,” the statement read.
—Acyn (@Acyn) August 13, 2022
He claimed that the power to classify and declassify documents rests solely with the president and that he does not need the approval of a “paper-pressing bureaucrat”.
This new defense – portraying Trump as another hard-working American – contradicts previous statements by Trump and his lawyers that baselessly claimed that the FBI could have planted evidence on the spot.
While the president has the power to declassify documents, legal experts say they must follow a set procedure. It is unclear if Trump ever did.
“He can’t just wave a wand and say it’s declassified,” Richard Immerman, a historian and deputy deputy director of national intelligence in the Obama administration, told NBC News. “There has to be a formal process. It’s the only way the system can work.”
Immerman noted that declassified documents are marked with the date they were declassified. This is not the case with some of the documents returned from Mar-a-Lago to the National Archives this year, according to NBC.
When reports of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago emerged in May, former Trump administration official Kash Patel claimed that Trump had declassified the files shortly before leaving office, but that the classified marks had not been removed.
During the search for Mar-a-Lago, FBI agents recovered 11 sets of classified documents, some of which were classified as top secret.
The Justice Department is investigating whether Trump violated three laws, including the Espionage Act, when he brought government records to Mar-a-Lago after leaving office, according to the warrant unsealed Friday.
One of the laws relates to the suppression of US national defense information, and the other two relate to the concealment or destruction of government records.
The possible crimes under investigation do not depend on the classification of the documents.
“Because the Espionage Act speaks in terms of national defense information, it leaves open the possibility that such information may be declassified as long as an agency still takes steps to protect it from disclosure,” Steven Aftergood, who runs the government secrecy project. at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, told the New York Times.